A resident ventures out of his apartment block in north Saltivka. (April 2022)
A resident ventures out of his apartment block in north Saltivka. (April 2022) © Oleksandr Magula
Serhiy, 59, cooks dinner with neighbours and friends on a open fire in the yard of his apartment block. (May 2022)
Serhiy, 59, cooks dinner with neighbours and friends on a open fire in the yard of his apartment block. (May 2022) © Oleksandr Magula
A resident in north Saltivka’s Str. Nataly Uzhviy street chops trees. The whole area lacks electricity and gas and people resort to cutting trees to cook and warm themselves. (May 2022)
A resident in north Saltivka’s Str. Nataly Uzhviy street chops trees. The whole area lacks electricity and gas and people resort to cutting trees to cook and warm themselves. (May 2022) © Oleksandr Magula
Saltivka resident shows a soldier the most damaged places in Barabasovo market. (April 2022)
Saltivka resident shows a soldier the most damaged places in Barabasovo market. (April 2022) © Oleksandr Magula
Firefighters brigade rush to Nataly Uzhviy street as Russian troops shell the northern area of Saltivka. (April 2022)
Firefighters brigade rush to Nataly Uzhviy street as Russian troops shell the northern area of Saltivka. (April 2022) © Oleksandr Magula
A destroyed Russian tank sits abandoned on tram tracks in south Saltivka. (April 2022)
A destroyed Russian tank sits abandoned on tram tracks in south Saltivka. (April 2022) © Oleksandr Magula
Firefighters tame a fire in an apartment block on. Lesya Serduka streets after rockets were fired on north Saltivka. (April 2022)
Firefighters tame a fire in an apartment block on. Lesya Serduka streets after rockets were fired on north Saltivka. (April 2022) © Oleksandr Magula
A woman rides her bicycle trough destroyed houses and deserted streets in north Saltivka in early April when the district suffered some of the most intense shelling. (April 2022)
A woman rides her bicycle trough destroyed houses and deserted streets in north Saltivka in early April when the district suffered some of the most intense shelling. (April 2022) © Oleksandr Magula
A room in the half-destroyed School 172 is used as a communal kitchen with an open fire. (April 2022)
A room in the half-destroyed School 172 is used as a communal kitchen with an open fire. (April 2022) © Oleksandr Magula
Weeks of relentless shelling has left the sprawling district littered with burned car and destroyed houses. (April 2022)
Weeks of relentless shelling has left the sprawling district littered with burned car and destroyed houses. (April 2022) © Oleksandr Magula
A man stares at his flat struck by a Russian rocket in mid-April 2022.
A man stares at his flat struck by a Russian rocket in mid-April 2022. © Oleksandr Magula
A destroyed house with graffiti reading "Люди" – People. (April 2022)
A destroyed house with graffiti reading "Люди" – People. (April 2022) © Oleksandr Magula
Mykhail indicates what remains of his apartment after a day of shelling. His block still stands, but little more than ash remains of many flats. (May 2022)
Mykhail indicates what remains of his apartment after a day of shelling. His block still stands, but little more than ash remains of many flats. (May 2022) © Oleksandr Magula
Panorama view of North Saltivka and abandoned apartments. (May 2022)
Panorama view of North Saltivka and abandoned apartments. (May 2022) © Oleksandr Magula
A view of what remains of Lesya Serdyka street. (May 2022)
A view of what remains of Lesya Serdyka street. (May 2022) © Oleksandr Magula
A Ukrainian army checkpoint during a demining operation in northern Saltivka. Mines as well as remnants of rockets, abandoned military vehicles and also widely banned cluster munitions are all across the district. (May 2022)
A Ukrainian army checkpoint during a demining operation in northern Saltivka. Mines as well as remnants of rockets, abandoned military vehicles and also widely banned cluster munitions are all across the district. (May 2022) © Oleksandr Magula

Kharkiv’s Ghost District

Saltivka was home to a third of the city’s population; Russian attacks turned it into a wasteland.

Thursday, 11 August, 2022

All photos by Oleksandr Magula.

Empty streets, burned buildings and tarmac swallowed up in large rocket craters: The northern Kharkiv district of Saltivka is a ghostly shadow of its former self. 

Barely 30 kilometres from the Russian border, this was the first large urban area the Russian army encountered in the first weeks of the invasion. 

Planned in the 1960s, Saltivka became Ukraine’s largest Soviet-era “sleeping district,” once home to about 400,000 people, a third of Ukraine’s second largest city. Today only about five per cent of residents remain, surviving in pockmarked buildings with no electricity or water and under constant shelling. About 70 per cent of the residential infrastructure is destroyed; buildings burned, shops boarded up, playgrounds deserted. 

The district housed Barabashovo market, reportedly Europe’s largest, which sprawled over 300,000 square metres and where tens of thousands of people traded. Today the facility, named after Nikolai Barabashov, the astronomer who published the first images of the dark side of the moon in 1961, is an empty shell after Russian rocket attacks.

Fewer missilies have fallen since May as Ukrainian forces repulsed Russian troops from their positions north of the district, but they continue to fall. Residents who did not leave, largely elderly people, sleep in basements and rely on humanitarian aid.

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